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Subcontractors working on CityFibre's £45m Derby rollout threaten to 'rip up tarmac' in dispute over payments

Main contractor J McCann insists it takes its obligations 'very seriously'

Contractors helping to lay fibre cables under streets in Derby have threatened to scrap their work and "rip up tarmac" they've laid – unless they get paid.

A report by Construction Enquirer claims that subcontractors have also downed tools following the payment row.

The cables are being laid for digital infrastructure outfit CityFibre, which is spending £45m to install digital infrastructure in Derby.

The main contractor on the CityFibre project is Nottingham-based civil and electrical engineering company J McCann. Like many companies in the sector, it uses subcontractors to carry out some of the work.

Behind the scenes, it's understood that CityFibre is trying to get the matter resolved so that the work done so far – and the ongoing investment in Derby – remains on track.

In a statement, J McCann declined to comment on the exact nature of the dispute but did say that it takes its payment and contractual obligations "very seriously" and would "never intentionally withhold payment for any works that have been completed in accordance with the terms of our agreement without firm legal justification."

It insists that it is working in "an open and collaborative spirit to ensure that our supply chain partners receive the correct payments as they fall due."

News of the dispute comes just days after CityFibre confirmed that a sizeable chunk of work installing cables and kit in parts of Derby – including Mackworth, Allestree, Mickleover, Littleover, Abbey, Arboretum, and Darley – had now been completed.

CityFibre's problems aren't restricted to the Midlands. Two hundred miles to the south of Derby, CityFibre is also facing engineering problems of a different sort.

Locals in the seaside town of Eastbourne are up in arms that work to install cables have overrun, leaving temporary covers over holes and trenches in some pavements and streets, disrupting life for residents.

It's still not clear why the problems surrounding the £26m project to install fibre in Eastbourne persist, although some observers claim a shortage of building materials needed to finish the job may be to blame.

In a statement, CityFibre told us: "In Eastbourne, we have encountered some unforeseen issues, but we can assure residents we are doing everything we can to build once and build right.

"This means that while our rollouts can sometimes take slightly longer than initially planned, we're less likely to disrupt roads and the local community again with future repair works." ®

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